Handmade textiles Introduction:
Years of working with artisans has not quenched my thirst for handmade textiles. On the contrary, everytime I watch artisans work their magic, I yearn for more interaction with artisans.
Handmade textiles Ikat:
Recently, I had an opportunity to observe Balinese Ikat weavers at work. To those unfamiliar with Ikat, it is one of the strongest and most complicated textile techniques. Artisans across the world are connected by a common thread. It is no wonder then, that artisans in three countries are skilled in the art of Ikat weaving, namely, India, Indonesia and Thailand. Ikat textiles are characterised by their geometric patterns. These patterns are formed by pre – dyeing the yarn in multiple colours to mathematical precision. Geometric patterns form when these yarns are woven on a shuttle loom. A small mistake in the pre – dyeing process can result in the final pattern being skewed. In single Ikat fabric, the weft thread alone is pre – dyed in multiple colours, while the warp thread is dyed in single colour. In double Ikat fabric, both warp and weft yarns are pre – dyed in multiple colours. Double Ikat weaving is a highly specialised textile technique, practised in India alone. Ikat textiles are put to multiple uses. They are used for making scarves and pocket squares. They are sewn into beautiful kaftans and dresses.
Handmade textiles Batik:
The art of batik painting is widely practised in Bali. Batik belongs to the genre of resist dyeing and printing. In resist printing, motifs are covered with wax (Indonesia), starch or mud (India and Africa) and the covered fabric is dipped in dye. The dyed fabric is then washed or steamed to get rid of the resisting agent. Batik was popularised in India by the Nobel laureate poet, Rabindranath Tagore. However, while Indonesians use the fine nibbed pen or tjanting and geometric blocks called tjaps made out of brass, Indians use paint brush and wooden hand blocks. Persian influence, with its curvilinear floral motifs, is abundant in Indian block printing.
Batik sarongs, shirts and dresses add value to a textile connoisseur’s wardrobe. While buying batik products, look for authentic handmade textiles and do not be fooled by cheap mass produced imitations.
Artisans world wide, display amazing depth, dexterity and diversity. We need to foster these handmade textiles so that our children and their children continue to be enthralled by their beauty and grace.
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